All-in-one PMS technology has evolved to encompass nearly every aspect of hotel operations, leveling the playing field for independents across the industry
By Warren Dehan
Independent luxury and full service hotel and resort groups are not willing to settle for less regarding operations technology. Still, their search for the best tools for the job has left many operators bogged down in complexity as they manage too many disparate systems at once. No hotelier can circumvent the rising complexity of operations today, but independents need more time and support to navigate these challenges and remain profitable. Rather than seeking individual tools to improve hotel operations and efficiency, today’s independent operators are choosing to consolidate and focus on all-in-one technology, starting with their property-management system.
Independent operators often have more significant technology needs than branded hotels as they lack an overarching brand to monitor their activity and provide support. Basically, they are going it alone. These operators need access to reliable, consistently updated, secure, and optimized technology. Most importantly, an independent hotel’s PMS must be able to communicate with other departments and manage all levels of complex and basic hotel activities, from reputation management to food & beverage, to avoid bogging hoteliers down in unnecessary processes.
Future-proofing your independent hotel against growing minutia is never easy, but the worst thing that can happen to out-of-date technology is that operators wait too long before replacing it, often turning an amenity into a hindrance. When considering the current state of independent hotel tech stacks, it’s easy to see how the chase for best-in-breed technology led to overcomplicated operations and a reliance on a spiderweb of tools, as well as too many vendor helpdesks to contend with. It has left operators exposed to inefficiencies.
To compete with brands and manage more extensive portfolios with more significant impact, independents must invest in an all-in-one property management system capable of handling a hotel’s operations from top to bottom and embrace integrations to fill in any gaps as they emerge.
Less is More
Hotels seized the pandemic as an opportunity to clean out guestrooms of unnecessary clutter, doing away with paper products and perishables in favor of anything that could be quickly and efficiently cleaned. Today’s guestroom experience is filled with considerably fewer frills than pre-pandemic, and the lack of clutter remains. Brands and independents alike are taking this lesson to heart from top to bottom, and now they are setting their sights on cutting down their tech stack.
Operators are rethinking scheduling, reworking their approach to ancillary revenue generators, and consolidating technology to reduce the processes needed to run hotels. When interconnected systems can access other departments more efficiently, such as the point-of-sale system, hoteliers have had the opportunity to experiment more with their services. This allows independent operators to refine their service model and exceed their service promises to guests.
The impact and value of loyalty programs are also experiencing a resurgence amid hospitality’s ongoing recovery, and independents are looking for more ways to tap into these benefits to attract and retain guests. According to a study from Boston Consulting Group, more than 60 percent of consumers under 35 say they expect to join at least one new paid loyalty program in 2023, and 17 percent expect to join three or more.
Loyalty programs have shown the ability to multiply consumer engagement results, and independent operators are once again seeking new ways to implement simple programs to cultivate guest interest and create repeat customers. An all-in-one PMS is ideal for independent operators with an eye on loyalty. It allows them to employ a just-right program where the benefits are clear to guests and operational overhead remains limited. These systems enable independents to cut to the chase, minimizing barriers to guest adoption while providing access to these capabilities in more significant numbers than were previously possible.
Mixing Things Up
Independent operators have high aspirations that are only growing, and many of these operators are simplifying their tech stack to achieve these dreams. The flexibility of an all-in-one system is also ideal for mixed-use properties, where operators need the ability to incorporate retail or residential bookings into their daily operations. These properties are common throughout the independent hotelier landscape, and those managing these groups require access to interlinked technology.
Independent hoteliers are increasingly attracted to the cohesiveness an all-in-one system can provide, particularly regarding guest engagement. Brands have access to robust tools to remain in contact with travelers before, during, and after their stay, and modern PMS tools give independent operators the same capabilities on one dashboard. An all-in-one PMS gives operators a consistent view of the guest experience and current sentiments about their stay without accessing multiple systems, improving operator response times and forming connections with guests more easily.
If independent hoteliers wanted to be accountable to many systems, contracts, and agreements, signing on with a brand might be more manageable. For those who value the freedom of their operations and the vision of their stay experience, it’s worth rethinking their tech stack to unburden them from so many systems and allow them to connect with guests on their terms. Many all-in-one systems have finally reached parity with best-in-breed technology, leading to their proliferation across the industry when hoteliers need them most.
About the Author
Warren Dehan is the President of Maestro, the preferred cloud and on-premises PMS solution for independent hotels, luxury resorts, conference centers, vacation rentals, and multi-property groups. Maestro was first to market with a fully integrated Windows PMS and Sales & Catering solution and is continuing that trend with leading edge web and mobile based solutions. Platform and deployment independence present Maestro as an investment that will continue to grow and adapt as new technologies emerge.